Tag Archive for attorney

Winning TIP #1

500px-International_Symbol_of_Access.svgSocial Security disability benefits (SSDI) can be difficult to obtain. Often, an individual who uses a cane, walker or wheelchair may assume that SSDI will pay benefits automatically. However, SSDI will require proper documentation of any ambulatory limitations. This includes a prescription from a medical doctor for equipment such as walkers and wheelchairs. When an individual has a disabling medical condition that is severe enough to restrict their movement, Social Security will classify the condition under their impairment listings. Each listing has criteria that an applicant must meet in order to receive benefits. Social Security looks for an “inability to ambulate effectively” in order to qualify for disability assistance. This phrase describes a severe limitation in the ability to walk without assistance from another person or devices such as canes, walkers or wheelchairs. Examples of conditions that satisfy the SSDI definition of the inability to ambulate effectively include:

• Major joint problems. • Rheumatoid arthritis. • Spinal stenosis. • Amputation. • Scleroderma. • Fractures. • Dermatomyositis or polymyositis.

Another condition that may qualify for SSDI benefits includes a “disturbance of gait and station.” This neurological disorder disrupts the ability to walk, stand or balance. Most often, a patient with this type of disorder will need a wheelchair. Examples of conditions that satisfy the SSDI definition of “disturbance of gait and station” include:

• Huntington’s disease. • Cerebral palsy. • Post-polio syndrome. • Muscular dystrophy. • Diabetic or peripheral neuropathies. • Multiple sclerosis. • Stroke. • Traumatic brain injury. • Paralysis or spinal cord injuries.

While the need for a wheelchair may establish a patient’s “inability to ambulate effectively” or a “disturbance of gait and station” according to Social Security, the agency may require the individual to meet additional criteria to receive automatic approval for benefits. To assist with the application process, providing documentation from a physician, such as the prescription for a cane, walker or wheelchair, will facilitate a quicker response from SSDI. To be eligible for SSDI payments without meeting the listing criteria, an individual must show that he or she cannot perform any job including sedentary work. If SSDI determines that the applicant can perform sedentary work, even while needing a wheelchair, the agency will deny the claim. In making the decision, Social Security will use a residual functional capacity assessment (RFC) from the medical documentation available. Therefore, the prescriptions for walking devices provide concrete evidence of the severity of the disability.

Checking the facts

ss statement-2014

Sample SSA Statement

Why is the pursuit of an SSDI claim like being a hitter in baseball? Because in both situations you only succeed 30% of the time. But unlike baseball, you cant make ends meet with such a high failure rate. Nearly 70% of all initial applications for SSDI are denied. When people start the process of filing for disability from the Social Security Office they will often look for help by hiring an attorney to represent them. When you have to get help with your claim you have to call around or click around to find and attorney. Typically, you will fill out an online form or speak with an intake team member from the attorney’s office. You tell the person on the phone all about your case. The intake person is judging the merits of your claim in that single phone conversation. Many times cases are rejected by intake teams because the team member cannot understand your claim. The team member is interpreting your story.  If you seem unsure of your situation then the team member is unsure as well. Perhaps the intake team for the attorney is not motivated to present the case because the disabled person has a hard time explaining the merits of their respective claim. Everybody’s case is different and an unclear case looks like a difficult case to many.  Many attorneys will only take cases that are easy. A tough case to an attorney is a drain on time and energy and the attorney may want to take a pass on representing a disabled person with. Many times attorneys will react to the disabled persons telling of their story. A disabled person may not be aware of all the facts in their respective case and will leave important facts out. A motivated attorney will try to dig out these facts of the case. A good attorney will not just trust what a disabled person thinks are the facts and circumstances of their case. When I approach a new case I always want to see a Social Security Statement to get a feel for what has been going on for work history. The Social Security Statement has a treasure trove of information for an attorney who wants to help you out. The Social Security Administration starts with this report first. An SSDI attorney should do the same thing. Some times when you speak to the intake team of some attorneys they will not take your case because of what you say. In my opinion, this is lazy. Cases are won on paper. Paper is what drives our modern society. Personal testimony does not carry the same weight in the eyes of an Administrative Law Judge as do the reports of the experts that write about your medical problems. The myDisability Advocacy Resource Center will try hard to get your paperwork. You can upload your documents directly to the site for review and we can get documents directly from Social Security so a thorough case review can be performed. So when you are ready to hire a professional to help your SSDI claim it is best to have your paperwork and a recent Social Security Statement.


You can get your Social Security Statement by clicking here.

Keeping a Disability Diary of how you feel

Keep a Journal

Keep a Journal

Keeping a Disability Diary of how you feel is a great way to present to the Social Security Administration your daily physical limitations.  Disabled people have good days and bad days.  This is understandable by most people.  Write down the days you don’t feel well and note any disruptions to your daily tasks.  Keep this information handy.  You may want to keep track of it on your computer or mobile device, but good old fashioned pen and paper works very well.  Just make sure you keep the physical paper safe from damage.  In your disability diary You should be keeping track of your daily routines and what stops you from completing any task in a normal amount of time.  As a hypothetical example, a 51 year old woman is trying to vacuum her home.  This woman is suffering from a disabling condition.  If she can only run the vacuum cleaner for five minutes without resting, then it should be noted in her diary.  Keeping track of fatigue is important since fatigue is a common qualifying condition.  Keeping track of pain is another way to testify about your condition.  Use a number system for pain like 1 (lowest pain) to 10 (highest pain). An attorney would find this information very important to present you claim to the SSA.  If you find you are in an appeal situation then this information can be used as documentation of your disabling condition.  The more information you write down, the better your chances are of impressing an Administrative Law Judge with your credibility.  Here is an example of what to write down: 10/12/2012 – I had to rest for 10 minutes after vacuuming the floor for 5 minutes.  Pain was 4 was shooting down my arm and lasted 20 minutes.  Advil, helps but not completely.  Stomach upset with Advil. Took over 3 1/2 hours to vacuum 4 rooms.  Took a nap at noon.  Awoke at 1:30pm.  Did last nights supper dishes and took an hour with a 15 minute rest.  Rested for an hour and shooting pain in hands and throbbing for 2 hours.  Advil did not help, needed to take percocet as prescribed by doctor. 10/13/2012 – Was driven to the bank and post office in morning.  Needed assistance in getting in and out of car. Pain was a 6 for the errands. Took at nap at 11:00am for 1 hour. I was going to go to supermarket, but I was feeling pain in shoulders of about an 8. Advil did not do enough, took percocet. Went to bed early with pain at 3, around 8:30 pm. Just write down the problems you have with your functioning.  These situations can show a pattern that experts can pick up on.  When you are filing for these claims, its important to get all the information you can so that when your case is presented to someone they can see what you are going through on a daily basis.  These glimpses in your daily functioning can help a judge glue together all the facts and circumstances of your claim into a real reduction in functionality.  A disability diary is generally considered testimony in the eyes of the law.

How much do I Pay?

Social Security Disability Insurance is just that, insurance.  Just like any insurance you pay a premium and you expect to get a benefit.  Working people in the United States are obligated to pay the insurance premium when we work for an employer.  The premium you pay is 6.2% (limited).  Additionally, your employers will also kick in %6.2 (limited) on your behalf as well.  This is 12.4% of your gross income going into the federal government’s trust fund.  These are your payments into the system and it’s a lot of money.  Here are the rules for how we pay into the system. This is right from Social Security Website: Social Security & Medicare Rates
When you have wages or self-employment income covered by Social Security, you pay Social Security taxes each year up to a maximum amount set by law. For 2013, you will pay Social Security taxes on income below $113,700. You must pay Medicare taxes on all income. Also, beginning in 2013 you must pay 0.9 percent more in Medicare taxes on earned individual income of more than $200,000 ($250,000 for married couples filing jointly). The tax rates shown below do not include the 0.9 percent:
  • Employees — the Social Security tax rate is 6.2 percent on income under $113,700 through the end of 2013. The Medicare tax rate is 1.45 percent of all income;
  • Employers — the Social Security tax rate is 6.2 percent. The Medicate tax rate is 1.45 percent; and
  • Self-employed —the Social Security tax rate is 12.4 percent on income under $113,700 through the end of 2013. The Medicare tax rate is 2.9 percent.
This is a lot of money.  SSDI is not welfare.  You have paid for the benefits and you have the right to make a claim. It is important to understand how much you paid into Social Security in your entire lifetime or working.  It is all online and it is called a Social Security Statement.You can get a copy of your Social Security Statement at the link below. SSA Account Page In it you will find all sorts of information like your estimated benefits, your earnings record, how much you have paid in, and more.  Check it out and see another post on Date Last Insured to figure out why this report can be so important.  Getting the online statement accomplishes two things.  First, you have access to your earnings and benefit records from the Social Security Administration.  Second, your representative has one more piece of the puzzle in building up your claim.    

Get your Application for SSDI started Today.

adult hospital bed

Adult in Hospital Bed

Procrastinating on your SSDI claim may have negative consequences. No time like the present to get your SSDI claim started.  It is very important that you start your SSDI claim, today, so that you can protect your potential SSDI benefits. If you procrastinate you could be losing money because the Social Security Administration has strict rules that relate to the earliest date you started the claim process. If you even think that making an SSDI claim is what you want to do in the near future, either get online and simply try the SSA online application process or contact a firm that specializes in helping people deal with an SSDI claim.  Do this today and don’t wait.  If you email me I will walk you through the process, Free of charge.  It’s that important.  Let me explain. For this discussion there are three dates that you need to know. The first date is the Application Date and it’s the date that you apply for benefits or you tell the SSA of your intent to file an application.  You don’t have to file your completed application for the Application Date to start you just need to tell the SSA that you intend to file.  The second date is the Established Onset Date (EOD) of your disability. This is when the SSA agrees that a person became officially disabled. The third date is the Date Of Entitlement (DOE). This date is when the SSA believes it should have start making payments and is five months after the EOD.  The five-month period is a deduction of the first 5 payments of any money the government may owe you on a new claim.  According to the law, the five-month period starts on the date that the SSA agrees that you become disabled. The official SSA Policy For this Topic You may think that you have to rush to get your application filed. You do not have to delay and impact your Application Date.  Don’t wait until you have all you case facts gathered, let the SSA know that you intend to file a claim.  Simply starting the SSDI application process is considered the first Application Date (AD). You can start the process by calling the SSA on their posted 800 number or try the SSA application process. By starting the application process you are creating a Protective Application Filing with the SSA. This tells the SSA that you intend on filing an application in the future. What this does is tell the SSA that your application date should start when the SSA was first informed of your potential claim and not just when they receive the formal application itself. It may take several months to prepare your claim.  So sooner rather than later should be one of your concerns. An attorney or non-attorney representative can send a Protective Application Filing to the SSA before the actual claim is prepared. This informs the SSA that you intend on filing a complete claim in the future and to keep the earliest possible date for the potential award to begin. This means that if your case does take more time to prepare, because of scheduling, backlog or complications, you wont have your award reduced because of the delay in filing the formal application.